Historically speaking, Roadburn’s Artist in Residence is usually an older, established act or musician, one who’s spent decades honing their skills and cultivating a worldwide reputation, but this year will be different. In 2016, Roadburn will welcome a new, young band that has exploded onto the international stage with the force of a neutron bomb, thanks to a crystal-clear, forward-thinking vision and the impeccable quality of their work. Born in the land of fire and ice, Icelandic black metal quartet Misþyrming will join the likes of Enslaved, Circle, Justin K Broadrick (Jesu), Neige (Les Discrets, Lantlôs and Alcest) and The Heads, and take the title of Roadburn 2016’s Artist in Residence.
During their residency, Misþyrming will play three shows at Roadburn.The first, Algleymi, will see the band debuting highly-anticipated new material. The second and most transcendent appearance, Úlfsmessa, will follow in the tradition the band first started at Iceland’s Eistnaflug Festival two years ago alongside members of the tightly-knit scene that surrounds the Vánagandr tape label. Joined by the Icelandic black metal and black metal-influenced ritual drone bands Naðra, NYIÞ and Grafir, Misþyrming will present an intense, immersive collaborative performance, ten members strong, that will both reaffirm and redefine any devotee’s commitment to black metal supremacy. The final chapter of their residency will be Söngvar elds og óreiðu, which will comprise a performance of their earth-shaking first album in its entirety.
My own impression of Úlfsmessa is one of awe and reverence; I’m honored to have been able to witness it twice on its native soil, and am so incredibly excited to share in its third incarnation and first performance outside Iceland with the rest of the Roadburn faithful. As I wrote in a review of this past summer’s Eistnaflug, “Watching the Úlfsmessa was a truly visceral experience—I could taste the wine, smell the burning wax, feel the stage shuddering beneath my hands and the distortion rattling my bones and the hairs standing up on the back of my neck whenever one of the hooded figures drew closer. It was frightening in its beauty, and beautiful in its harsh ugliness. What they created up there was raw, and intense, and chilled us to the bone. It reminded me why I love black metal so fiercely, and gave me hope for the future of a genre so often allowed to fester.”
Roadburn’s own guiding light, Walter, was there, too—I’d told him earlier that if he saw one thing at Eistnaflug, it had to be Úlfsmessa. When we met up afterwards to talk about the performance, we were both nearly speechless in wonder. “It’s so great to see this new young generation of Icelandic black metal musicians exploring the genre as it should be. I think Misþyrming and those performing the Úlfsmessa are the core of this creative hub,” he explained later. “The performances of Misþyrming and Úlfsmessa I saw in Iceland resonated on such an emotional level for me that I want to be able to share this with all at Roadburn.”
Iceland’s black metal community is one of the strongest and most compelling in the world, and Misþyrming is at its forefront. What they’ve created with their own music as well within the sacred confines of the Úlfsmessa is exactly the kind of imaginative, honest, and boundary-breaking musical art that Roadburn seeks to support, and their involvement with this year’s festival is sure to be nothing short of legendary. You have been warned!
Kim Kelly is hopefully not getting seasick right now. Follow her on Twitter - @GrimKim